Congress suspends 3 J'khand MLAs caught in Bengal cash haul, accuses BJP of conspiracy to topple govt

Accusing the BJP of attempting to topple the Jharkhand government, the Congress said that the three MLAs were involved in a plot to weaken the legislative party and also to lure other MLAs

(L-R) Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Bixal Kongari
(L-R) Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Bixal Kongari
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NH Web Desk

The Congress on Sunday suspended three Jharkhand MLAs, who were caught allegedly with a huge amount of cash in Howrah, and accused the BJP of attempting to topple its coalition government in the state.

However, the Congress asserted that its coalition government led by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is "completely secure and stable" and would complete its term.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, party's general secretary and Jharkhand in-charge Avinash Pande said Congress president Sonia Gandhi has suspended the three MLAs with immediate effect.

Acting on a tip-off, police on Saturday intercepted an SUV in which Congress MLAs Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari were travelling on national highway-16 at Ranihati in West Bengal's Howrah and allegedly found a huge amount of cash in the vehicle.

Pande said the three MLAs were allegedly involved in a plot to weaken the legislative party in Jharkhand and also in "misleading" other MLAs

"The party leadership is aware of who all are part of the conspiracy and will take action at an appropriate time," he said.

"We have information on everyone. In the coming days, be it any public representative, party's office bearer, or any worker, whoever is found connected or involved in this, the party will take strict action against them," said Pande.

He asserted that the JMM-led government is completely "secure and stable" and the coalition MLAs, "barring a few black sheep", will fight such attempts in a united manner and complete the term.

Accusing the BJP of attempting to topple the Jharkhand government, Pande said democracy is being "shredded to pieces" as democratically elected governments are being destabilised in a brazen manner.

"Efforts being made from the last two years to destabilise the government in Jharkhand and from time to time legislators are contacted, threatened and enticed," he alleged.

An FIR was also registered in the connection some days ago against BJP leaders, Pande said.

"In these efforts, a chief minister of a state is involved and is contacting MLAs directly and Union ministers are threatening MLAs," Pande claimed without naming anyone.

Pande said the Enforcement Directorate had been misused to effect a change of government in Maharashtra.

Congress' media department head Pawan Khera alleged that the government agencies, instead of doing their job, were working as an extended arm of the BJP to destabilise elected governments.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter on Saturday that "The BJP's 'Operation Lotus' in Jharkhand stands exposed tonight in Howrah. The game plan of 'Hum Do' in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra by installing E-D duo."

The Jharkhand Congress has also claimed that the huge amount of cash was part of a conspiracy by the BJP to topple the Hemant Soren government, of which it is a part along with Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Besides the MLAs, there were two other people in the SUV, which carried a board mentioning "MLA Jamtara Jharkhand" along with the Congress' election symbol, police said.

Ansari is the MLA of Jamtara, while Kachchap is the legislator of Khijri in Ranchi district and Kongari is the MLA of Kolebira in Simdega district.

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